We’re often asked for top tips around the kind of leadership that produces sustainable business transformation. Over the years, we’ve helped leaders to have the biggest and most positive impact on their team(s) – and their business results.  So, we asked them – the people we’ve helped – to give us their Top Leadership Tips.

There will be twelve in all. The first two are below, and we’ll keep adding to them as we publish the rest.


Tip 1

“The vision for the business has no force, power or impact unless it spreads from the visionary to the visionless.

A mark of a top leader is the ability not only to capture a vision, but also to articulate it and cause people to fully embrace it in their future attitude, actions and performance.

We really enjoyed working with you and the team so wanted to thank you for all your help and support. And, just to reiterate that we had record years the last 5 years running and I am convinced that is related to the fact that we were working with you.”

R.W, Chief Executive, Professional Services


Tip 2

“Understanding that the biggest barriers to delivering the improvements we wanted to see in the business were not in the processes, systems or resources, they were in the mindsets and attitudes of all the people involved!

We had spent a lot of time and money on new systems., streamlining processes and acquiring more resource which produced small, marginal improvements.

We hadn’t spent any time or money on our people to properly explain our new direction and strategies – and how key they were on delivering the plan which futureproofed our business.

We won all our people’s hearts and minds and their behaviour and performance followed. The transformation was almost unbelievable”

Results Achieved: Accelerated success beyond all expectations

 MB – Managing Director, Manufacturing Sector

Tip 3

“Understanding that treating people like you’d like to be treated is, not only daft, but dangerous!  We need to learn to treat people like they’d want to be treated.

There are too many people in leadership positions who are bullies, and have the hide of a rhinoceros. People are motivated by different things – some are competitive, some are security focused, others love playing their full part in a team and being recognised for it, some are customer-focused and others need lots of praise and reassurance.

One size definitely does not fit all …. Everyone is different and a leader needs to find the right approach with the right team member to really motivate them to perform at their best”

“If, when we started the Sewells Leadership Programme, someone had told me the extent of tangible progress we’d make, I’d have said, “It would be impossible”! Of course, now we know that nothing is impossible!”
BB, Senior Vice President Sales, Mining Sector

Tip 4

“The sustainable success we want to see in our business is not based on doing extraordinary things, it’s based on doing simple things extraordinarily well!

We spent years and a lot of money searching for the latest “gizmo”, “fad” or “craze” to put us ahead of our competitors.

We learned from a Sewells tailor-made leadership programme that our communication with the team was terrible. Some simple adjustments energised the whole team to improve performance in all areas.

We also discovered that performance management is a daily doing, not an annual appraisal! Silos disappeared almost overnight and the end to end processes and efficiencies were significantly improved.

Also, our ability to motivate everyone in our teams on an individual basis has helped our leaders not only to improve their teams’ skills but also their levels of trust.”

Results Achieved: Nothing is impossible!


Tip 5

The biggest learning …

“Coming to the realisation that the safest place for any business to be is when it is judged, by its customers, to be the best at what it does, better than any and all of its competitors.

Sewells introduced us to the principles and practices of producing regular Net Promoter Scores (click for more info).

We had more measurements in the business than we knew what to do with, but we had no real measures on how our customers rated what we did, or how we did it – and – how to improve it to earn their loyalty.

We got a huge shock when we first measured it, but it was the defining moment in our business improvement transformation.

I wouldn’t say we were complacent when it came to the customer experience, we were just in the “you don’t know what you don’t  know” zone.

Once Sewells pointed us in the right direction and guided us on our journey, the majority of our customers are now customers for life.”


Tip 6

The biggest learning …

“It’s not in the knowing, it’s in the doing” is one of the Sewells adages that stuck with me. What is the point of knowing how to communicate objectively or to know what proper, day to day performance management looks like and not having the confidence to actually transfer the learning and do it in the workplace?

The Sewells workshop, uniquely in my experience, not only gives you the knowing what to do, but also the belief and motivation to apply it brilliantly in practice.

The improvement in all the key leadership skills taught positively moved all the dials on the key performance indicators, and the team spirit went through the roof as I mastered all the ‘doing’.

My confidence soared as the learning on the job continued to improve long after the workshops ended.”


Tip 7

The biggest learning …

“Whether we’re doing classroom training or on the job coaching, it’s important to follow one of the Parachute Regiment’s mottos: “Train hard, fight easy”!

Sewells introduced us to the term, “real plays” (as opposed to ‘role plays’).

When putting into practice the powerful leadership principles they taught us on topics such as conflict management or giving developmental feedback when coaching, the situations they put us in were actually tougher than real life!

This meant that when our managers and leaders were putting the learning into action in the workplace, they were more than ready to get the outcome they wanted – with ease and confidence.

“Train hard, fight easy” is one of our key differentiators in the business.

We’re leaving our competitors standing!”


Tip  8

The biggest learning …

“The realisation that our people “doing their best” is not enough … people need to know what they’re doing, and how to do it … THEN do their best.

It was just one more example from the Sewells “blinding flash of the obvious” that we, as a company, had been missing for years.

We’d all been “doing our best” to motivate and  positively performance manage the members of our teams. Sewells came in and showed us not only what to do but also how to do them properly.

We went from ineffective and rank amateurs to uber-professional black belts in weeks and our confidence soared – even as the market got very challenging.

The improvement in performance, results, the customer experience and team spirit and engagement was nothing short of staggering.”


Tip 9

The biggest learning …

“I’m still applying the leadership principles and practices I learned from Sewells over 20 years ago.  The Sewells stuff is not only priceless but also timeless.”

There are two things that have stayed with me as the most valuable. The first one is:-

You really need to coach or teach the different people in your team on an individual basis.

One size definitely doesn’t fit all. You have to spend time with them, coaching them properly, not just telling them.

We need to help guide them to the right solution, and let them come up with their own ideas.

That kind of support and encouragement will last them a lifetime.”


Tip 10

“We have to re-learn how to talk to each other and stop sending emails.

We need to take the time to speak to each other and ensure there are no misunderstandings and that the targets, and how to achieve or exceed them, are clear.

If people aren’t asking questions, it doesn’t mean they don’t understand.

It means they’re not learning!

No one is so good at communicating that there are never any questions.”


Tip 11

The biggest learning …

“We thought we knew what the priorities were in terms of what we needed to cover, skills-wise, in the leadership development programme we were about to embark upon.  The Sewells Diagnostics showed that we were completely off target.

We were convinced that we needed to focus on communication and “active listening” in particular. Team building and conflict management were also high on the list.

Delegation and goal setting were also on the list.

Sewells convinced us to complete a Diagnostic interview exercise with the leadership team and other key members of the operational team (this comprised a one hour long, strictly private and confidential structured interview about what they were thinking and feeling about the business – its direction, culture, leadership styles, levels of trust, how safe people feel speaking up and coming up with ideas to improve things, the ability to lead and land business-critical change etc.)

We needed “brave pills” to digest the priceless insights that were fed back to us.  People were unclear on our new direction, the strategies were not understood, nor were any plans for their execution in existence, the culture in parts of the business was toxic, very few people had belief in what we were doing, and levels of trust were low.

We ended up starting the Leadership Development Programme with the key business improvement priorities – creating a vibrant ‘vision’ for the future that people could believe in, creating values and standards of behaviour that consistently exceed objectives.

Removing the silos that existed between departments was a big one, too.

The top tip is “know your starting point”!

“Our performance is at record levels on every KPI – revenues, profits, operational efficiency, employee and customer engagement”


Tip 12

The biggest learning …

“Sewells not only gave us the world class principles and practices of what to do and how to do it in terms of a wide variety of leadership skills, they also gave us the confidence to put them into practice in the workplace in order to move all the performance dials.

With Sewells’ enviable reputation for exceeding pre-agreed hard and soft outcomes from any Leadership Programme they deliver, you (the delegates) get more than the top drawer tips and techniques.

There is a science and psychology-based “magic” included, which is pretty unique.

It explains what makes us, as human beings, tick and go ballistic.  It gives us the tools to master the simple and highly effective process of how to get the best out of ourselves – and others.

When it is applied, it never fails to give us access to the hidden abilities and levels of motivation to achieve at the highest level.

The positive impact – personally and professionally – produces an “unstoppable factor” that is with you for the rest of your life.”

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